About the Institute for Chronic Pain

The Institute for Chronic Pain is an educational and public policy think tank whose mission is to make pain management more effective by changing the culture of how chronic pain is treated. We engage in research, development, and promotion of scientifically accurate information related to the field of chronic pain management. We do so by bringing together thought leaders from around the world to provide academic-quality information that is approachable to all stakeholders in the field. 

In so doing, we have two main goals for achieving our mission of changing the culture of how chronic pain is managed. First, we aim to change our societal understanding of both the nature of pain and how to most effectively treat it. In so doing, we bring these societal understandings into line with the available scientifically supported findings. Second, with such a change in the societal understanding of pain, we further aim to change what the public demands and expects when seeking care. We envision a day when patients and their families have an empirically-supported understanding of the nature of pain and as such they have the knowledge-base to demand empirically-supported treatments when seeking care for their pain. 

Murray J. McAllister, PsyD, founded the Institute for Chronic Pain because of long-standing concerns about how chronic pain is managed in the current healthcare arena. These concerns are the following:

  • There is little to no conventional agreement among healthcare providers as to how to treat chronic (non-cancer) pain, even for common chronic pain conditions, like chronic low back or neck pain, fibromyalgia, or chronic daily headaches.
  • There is little conventional agreement among healthcare providers as to how to even conceptualize the nature of chronic pain.
  • Many healthcare providers and much of society, generally, understands chronic pain as the result of a long-lasting orthopedic injury or condition and as a result they commonly pursue orthopedic-related therapies and procedures that tend to lack any significant degree of efficacy; this conceptualization and its subsequent treatment strategies have not kept pace with the current scientific evidence; indeed, the findings of both basic and applied science show that chronic pain is a nervous system-related condition and that interdisciplinary rehabilitation therapies are the most effective form of treatment.
  • Because of the lack of consensual agreement with regard to how to conceptualize and treat chronic pain, the care that patients receive is based largely on the specialist to whom they get referred.
  • Treatment recommendations that patients receive are largely based on tradition and not on a careful allegiance to what science tells us is most effective.
  • In addition to tradition, market forces can affect treatment recommendations in ways that fail to adhere to what science tells us is the most effective.

The Institute for Chronic Pain ('Institute') was founded and developed to resolve these on-going concerns. We attempt to develop consensus among the lay public, patients, providers, third party payers, and public policy analysts as to a) how to conceptualize pain and b) how to most effectively treat it.

In other words, we recognize that the field of chronic pain management is presently undergoing a paradigm shift in our societal understanding of the nature of pain and how to treat it. We have taken it as our mission to foster this change in our paradigmatic understanding of pain. 

The Institute has set out a number of methods for achieving the resolution of these concerns.

  • A free health information website that provides academic-quality information which is also approachable and understandable by the lay public, patients, non-specialist healthcare providers, third party payers, and policy analysts.
  • The promotion of traditional media communications on the nature of chronic pain and its most effective treatments vis-à-vis the popular press and other media, academic journals and newsletters, books, and white papers.
  • In addition to traditional media, we innovate, even disrupt, traditional publication avenues for academic work and develop new ways to disseminate academic science and health-related information to the lay public.
  • For-benefit education and consultation to the lay public, patient advocacy groups, healthcare provider groups, and third party payers. Our consultation services are designed for patient and provider education, program development, and policy-making. We do not provide clinical health services to patients.
  • Rigorous adherence to empirical based healthcare (i.e., using science to inform us about what works and what doesn’t work in healthcare, and using this information to guide treatment decisions).
  • Maintaining financial independence from pharmaceutical and medical technology industries for the on-going operations of the Institute.
  • Adherence to the guiding values of integrity, transparency, excellence, concern for the health and welfare of patients, and social responsibility.

Through commitment to these methodologies and values, the Institute plans to change how the healthcare community and its patients conceptualize and treat chronic pain.

In its current aims, the Institute for Chronic Pain promotes the theory and practice of interdisciplinary chronic pain rehabilitation.  The methodologies cited above lead us to do so. While far from the most profitable form of treatment, it is the most empirically-supported. Moreover, a commitment to our guiding values ensures us to promote what, at the current time, is known to be the most efficacious treatment.  Nonetheless, we fully expect that our promotion and advocacy of chronic pain rehabilitation may evolve in response to future scientific findings. That is to say, our commitment to empirical-based healthcare and our guiding values surpasses our commitment to any particular form of care. At the present time, our mission is to promote chronic pain rehabilitation because it is generally the most efficacious treatment for chronic pain.  

Dr. McAllister holds a Doctor of Psychology degree and is a clinical health psychologist whose career has been devoted to chronic pain management and health psychology in both the clinic and academia. He is currently the Executive Director of the Institute for Chronic Pain and in this capacity he serves as the editor-in-chief of the website, and all educational and training materials. All content is reviewed and revised, as necessary, on at least a biannual basis by Dr. McAllister. 

The Institute operates on financial and in-kind contributions, limited advertising on the website, fund-raising, grants, honoraria, for-benefit consultation fees, and the gift economy. As indicated, we do not accept monies from the pharmaceutical industry, medical technology industry, or any other source that might influence the editorial decisions of the Institute's website or its position statements. Additionally, as a public policy think tank, the Institute does not provide healthcare services to patients. 

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